Tuesday, 31 December 2013

It's Been A Funny Old Year

This time last year I was sitting writing my end-of-year post and said "In 2013 I hope to get a "proper job", move out of my parent's house and into a space of my own and get my life safely back on the road to adulthood. I want to get back on stage and sing and do all the things I love again. Maybe even find a new boyfriend but for once it's not something I'm giving a high priority to. I'm going to have a kick ass awesome birthday to make up for this year's massive flop." and yet here I am, a year later, still sitting in my childhood bedroom and as unemployed as ever. In many ways, I feel like my life has been on hold this year because I've not really done anything with it-I've barely been on stage, I've not worked, I've spent a lot of money but don't have a whole heap to show for it!

[Source-Open Clip Art Library]
At times it's felt like someone's placed me on pause, in a timelock, and that my life only exists when I leave the house and go and do something, and this is something I'm going to work hard on changing next year.

2013 was the year of travelling around the country to visit various friends in their various houses, it was the year of me going on the dole, spending a few months feeling humiliated and worthless and then coming off it again, it was the year I got more into blogging than I ever have been before-across two entirely different blogs, no less, and I have enjoyed making many a new virtual friend. I found myself some penpals when I had nothing to do with my time and have loved sending letters across the world to some virtual strangers, as well as exchanging lots of postcards with lots of others. I've seen lots of good theatre, even if I haven't been in much, and I've laughed a lot. I did have a kick ass awesome birthday-in fact, I had two, and Christmas this year was also really brilliant. I've visited Sheffield hundreds of times and often felt home sick when I had to leave. I've also spent a lot of time not doing anything  at all but sitting at home in my pyjamas and I am more than a little sick of it. I've been to visit lots of potential houses/rooms in my beloved Sheffield and got turned down time and again-until I found somewhere that was perfect in late November. I was looking forward to moving back and kick starting my life again until I found out that that particular door had been cruelly slammed in my face too. I am now more determined than ever that in 2014 I will get back up there, and things are going to get better than they are now.

2013 was also the year that I, quite unexpectedly, fell in love all over again. I was never really looking for romance but it came along anyway and has taken me by surprise-it's reminded me how fun falling in love is, how awesome it is to have someone wonderful who cares about you and just wants to spend their time with you. I honestly can say I feel like a teenager again-it's been all fireworks and butterflies and blushing cheeks and stolen kisses. I found someone who thinks I am wonderful just as I am, who doesn't want to change me into someone else, and who isn't afraid of holding my hand in public, and for me at least, that's pretty incredible. Relationship-wise, I'm the happiest I have been in some years and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that things stay this good for a while. I realise this is turning into a bit of a soppy blog, and I apologise for that, but I'm just happy and contented, so please don't hold it against me too much.

So I can't really completely write 2013 off as a reject year. I've had my low moments, and have done nothing to progress my life further in any way but I've made some good memories too-with my friends, with my boyfriend, I've seen bits of the country I've not seen before and done some things I probably won't do again, and I think I've finally worked out what I want to do with my life...eventually. I've read lots of books, and have started a reading challenge, meaning I've got many more to read in the future-always a good thing. I'll be spending New Year's Eve surrounded by Light Entertainers (the very best of people) once again, and for the first time ever I have someone to kiss at midnight, which I intend to take full advantage of.

So long 2013. Hoping 2014 is full of more opportunities and things finally going my way so I can start living again.

See you next year!

-Jenni-

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A Minor Win For The Grammar Bandit

My friend turned me into a Meme because she's
basically awesome.

I'm always amazed when walking down any street with shops on to see how many grammatical errors I encounter-and the number is always remarkably high.What I don't understand is this-how on earth can so many people get so many things wrong? It's not like we haven't been taught it-we were! At primary school at the very least, and they were probably reiterated to us many times throughout our lives, so how difficult can it be? If you have a spelling or grammar error in a sign in the window of your shop-or worse, in the shop sign itself-it speaks to me of laziness and lack of respect for your business. It just doesn't feel very professional to me, is all. I mean these days it's not even really that hard to check with spell checkers and wiggly green lines and ALL OF THE INTERNET at your disposal, so it just comes across as laziness or stupidity on the part of the sign writer. I know I'm probably opening myself up as an easy target here, because I'm sure my blogs are full of sloppy grammar, and I know I have a bad habit of over using exclamation marks, but I'm really talking about the simple things that everyone should know, not just those who studied English at higher levels.
The worst offenders by far are apostrophes-people just don't seem to know what to do with them at all! I've lost count of the amount of times I've seen shops offering "tea's and coffee's" or "CD's", and there's even a tattoo parlour near me that proudly declares that they do "Tattoo's"-above the entrance to the shop no less.

This was stolen from Google Earth so it's a bit smushed
together but you can still see the offending apostrophe!

Would you trust someone to ink something permanently into your skin when they can't even get the sign for their own shop correct? No thank you!

Another one I see knocking around a lot is 'smile, your on CCTV' types-and that makes me twitch just to even type it. I'm not really sure where the confusion lies between 'you're' being short for 'you are' and 'your' meaning belonging to you but apparently it's there. Or possibly their, to some people. (Twitch.)

I used to be quite the stickler for it-was constantly correcting people's grammar on Facebook or Bebo (ha!) and the like-and it's something that makes people really mad! There have been numerous times when I've felt bad for correcting someone when they reply with "DYSLEXIC!" shouted back at me, or just had someone get angry with me for correcting them on their own status etc.. (Not, as it happens, ect, which means something rather different!). I've since relented a little-on your Facebook, in text messages etc. you can use whatever grammar you like and for the most part I won't call you up on it, unless you're someone who I know won't mind or should know better. In conversation too-I don't think you should pick on that because everyone has their own way of speaking full of their own colloquialisms and idioms and you shouldn't interfere with that unless you have been explicitly paid to do so. But if you use terrible grammar or make spelling mistakes on your company's website, in a sign on or around your shop, in formal correspondence or any other setting where you're supposed to be showing a professional front-I will judge you. My big mental red pen will come out and I'll start correcting things, if only in my head. Although I did once point out a spelling error in a presentation given to me at a job interview! I will also try to avoid using your business where I can, because I feel like if you can't take the time to get that basic thing correct, what other, more important things are you getting wrong or not noticing?

There is a happy ending to my tale, however, albeit only a small one. The other day I was walking through a shopping centre that had otherwise blank walls decorated with artwork by local children/artists and a short description beside them. As we walked past one of these, my speed reading eyes processed the fact that there was a horrible mashing together of sentences that weren't properly punctuated, and I exclaimed as much to my friend. What I hadn't realised though is that the sign painters were still nearby, and overheard me. One of them asked me to point out the mistake to him so that he could correct it for me. I think what I actually said was
"It needs a comma or something. I mean ideally it needs a full stop but you don't have a capital letter so you can't do that. A semi-colon would be best actually, but if nothing else, it needs a comma!"
He told me he didn't think there would be room for a semi-colon but he'd make sure something got sorted out for me and I went on my merry way.
To my surprise, when I walked past the other day and look there was a semi-colon. My semi-colon! I mean it's still a horrible sentence and would be better off being re-written entirely, but it's much better than it was!


I'm taking that one as one small victory for the Grammar Bandit, though there's still quite a way to go!

*hoists big red pen onto shoulder and walks off into sunset, cape flapping majestically in the breeze*

-Jenni-


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Un-common Courtesy

The thing that strikes me about the phrase 'common courtesy' is that it doesn't seem to be all that common any more. From the people who leave their bags on the seat even though the train is full and people are having to stand, to the ones who push their way onto the bus before letting anyone else off, to the ones who fail to hold a door for you despite the fact you're only a couple of steps behind them, leaving it to slam shut in your face. It's not really hard to think of examples of it-it's happening everywhere, everyday. Not many people go out of their way to help a stranger any more, and a lot of people only look out for themselves. It does make me wonder what it is about our modern lives that mean the little kindnesses and courtesies are being forgotten?
Is it because no-one really lives in communities any more-no-one knows their neighbours and the people that live near them so they are less likely to do things for them? Or is it because people nowadays are so busy with life, and if they're not then they have their noses glued to their smart phones and don't notice the world passing them by. I think people don't feel like they can spare the time to help someone else out because their lives are too full of emails and Twitter and Facebook, and there's not much room left for the real world when the virtual one occupies your head almost entirely.
I can't help but wonder if there's more selfish motives too-along the lines of 'why should I do something for someone when it doesn't benefit me directly?' Or if not taking the time to give someone a little common courtesy makes your life a little easier, then why would you do it and put the hardship upon yourself?

It makes me sad though, that this is the world we now live in, where people would rather serve themselves over everyone else, where taking a couple of seconds of your time to do something small for someone else is too much for effort for too little reward. And, let's be honest here, it really sucks to be on the other side of this-to be the person who's had to stand on an almost full train when you've had a long day, to have to break your stride to not get hit in the face by a closing door, to be pushed past and shoved aside as if you're nothing but a nuisance to other people. I've been on the receiving end more times than a few recently-I've been looking for places to live in Sheffield since September and there have been at least a couple of occasions where I've been promised that I'd be contacted by the landlord, only to never hear anything from them again. The waiting and hoping without hearing anything was gradually replaced with just another sense of disappointment. To be honest, I would have preferred to just hear it from them-if they'd given me the simple courtesy of letting me know that the room had been let to someone else rather than leaving me hanging without a definite answer, it would have been much nicer, and the disappointment easier to take. Yeah, I know that it's never fun giving someone bad news, but I think they're going to have a lot more respect for you if you handle things professionally rather than just letting it slide and hope that they get the message.

As I said, it just makes me a bit sad that this is just the way things are nowadays. And I guess the only way to combat it really is to make sure I'm don't become one of those people myself-to make sure I do that little something to make someone else's day run more smoothly, to try and always show a little consideration for other people, even if they're not responding in kind. Who knows, maybe in the spirit of paying it forward someone else might then extend a simple courtesy to a stranger for no other reason than because they're a fellow human being, and we all appreciate the little things sometimes. I'm not especially hopeful though-I reckon I just have to come to terms with the fact that courtesy isn't all that common any more. I guess it's just another sign of the times, ey?

-Jenni-

Friday, 15 November 2013

Barefaced Cheek!

[Source-BBC Website]
Tonight is the annual BBC's Children In Need fundraiser to raise money for children's charities across the UK. I'm not here to pick fault with the event on the whole because I actually take a lot of pride in the fact that as a country, we come together twice a year and give stupendous amounts of money to people who are worse off than we are-it's one of the few truly great things left about Great Britain, I reckon. Every year, the BBC suggests some sponsored events to take part in, and this is where my grudge lies. This year, they're asking women to be sponsored to go 'Bear Faced' for CIN, and I have all kinds of problems with this. The idea is that you forego all make-up (save for a small paw-print temporary transfer) for an entire day, and ask people to sponsor you for it. Ugh, this makes me cross for so many reasons.

Firstly, as I've said before, I'm not really keen on the idea of forcing people to wear no make up-for what ever reason it may be. Some women choose to wear make-up every day for a whole host of reasons personal to them, and I'm not going to judge them for it in any way. I know that for a lot of people, wearing make-up helps them be more self-confident, helps them feel beautiful or just helps them face the world a little better, and I would never want to ask someone to forego that layer of comfort, even for charity. Asking someone potentially feel uncomfortable or unhappy for a day as a way to raise money feels like a pretty dirty trick from the BBC to me. I know that all the money raised is going to good causes, but if it's at the cost of someone's self-confidence, even if it's only for a day, then it's asking too much, as far as I'm concerned.

Secondly, I can't help but feel like this is making an issue out of something that really isn't an issue-it's making not wearing make-up daily seem like a weird, abnormal activity. Considering that this suggestion lies alongside 'wearing your pyjamas to work' and 'sponsored silences', it's definitely placing the not wearing of make-up into the 'abnormal stuff you just wouldn't do all the time' category and not the 'this is actually a pretty normal thing' one-which let's face it, it is! There's already so much pressure for women to look a certain way, so many airbrushed photos telling us that this is what we should be that it's not really all that surprising that women wear make-up. That doesn't make not wearing it weird though-I can't help but feel like this is just one more way to tell women that they "should" be wearing make-up every day if they want to be "normal", and that makes me really cross. Whether or not you choose to wear make-up or not shouldn't make you "abnormal", whereas I feel if you started going to work every day in your pyjamas then you might get talked about. They're not on the same level of behaviour, and I for one am a little bit insulted that the BBC seems to think they should be.

Finally, I just don't think people should be sponsored for not doing anything. I realise this sounds a little contradictory to my first point, so I'll try to explain myself.  Personally, I would never feel comfortable asking someone to sponsor me to not wear make-up, because I might as well ask them to sponsor me to wear pants every day, or remember to brush my teeth. It's something I already do anyway with no thought whatsoever, so how could I ask someone for money for it when I have done literally nothing to earn it?
I know that this is not the case for everyone, and that some people will find the idea of not wearing make-up for a day a huge psychological trial-and they have my utmost respect if they choose to go Bear Faced anyway because that's a big thing for them. But I still feel like they shouldn't have been asked to in the first place-it's way too personal and goes way beyond simply not putting foundation on in the morning. For everyone else, the people like me who are fairly indifferent to wearing make-up, or the people who don't really think they need it, but just like wearing it, this is no big deal at all. It's literally saving you time when you get up in the morning, and I just can't bring myself to sponsor people for doing nothing.

So yeah, Children in Need will still be getting their money from me, but I definitely won't be supporting their Bear Faced campaign. How about you?

-Jenni-

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

To Blog Or Not To Blog?

You can't fail to have noticed that I have been somewhat absent from this blog in recent weeks-again. I've not posted in over a month for various reasons (which I'll get onto shortly) and I was, for a while in two minds about whether I should continue blogging. Then I realised I'd miss it too much if I gave it up because actually, I genuinely love being a blogger. I just need to make it fit into my life a little better at the moment. I'm going to try to stop feeling bad about not posting regularly or on time and just post things when I want to, when I think of them, when I can-after all it's my blog to run as I please rather than let it control me with posting schedules and deadlines. If it means I am out living my Every Day Adventure more than writing about it from time to time, then so be it.

There are many reasons why I'm blogging less nowadays-firstly I'm happy. I've always struggled to find inspiration and be able to write well when I am in a good place in my life-and sure, it's far from where I would like it to be but the people in it make me feel happy. I've got excellent friends who never fail to make me laugh and I'm falling in love with someone wonderful-so who am I to complain? I've got blog ideas swirling around my brain clamouring for attention but as soon as I try to put pen to paper they shrivel away to nothingness and never turn into something worthwhile. I don't have anything new to post here because my brain won't let me write.
Secondly, this is no longer my only blog-yes I am cheating on this one with another, like a cat who goes to two houses for dinner. That other blog is a million light years away from being a lifestyle blog and doesn't really require me to think, to carefully sculpt words into sentences and craft those sentences into paragraphs and posts. This makes it a lot easier to produce content for, almost without thinking, and therefore it monopolises my time a lot more easily like a spoilt younger sibling pulling a mother away from its older brothers and sisters. This blog will always be my baby, and I know it's content to sit by and let me deal with the attentions of my second before returning, always, to it, with a shrug and a smile as if to say "sorry, you know how it is". I've also discovered a-whole-nother blog community out there, and I enjoy interacting with it a lot-though this again takes up time.
I'm not actually dedicating much time in my life to writing anything at all at the moment-and this is something that I do want to work on. Even if they don't end up being published on here, I want to try and write something every week simply because it's something I enjoy doing-sitting down for a while with a notebook and just scribbling away. I really wanted to get involved with NaNoWriMo again this year but I struggled to come up with a good idea for a story and it just never ended up happening.
Also, it got difficult. The next post in my 30 Posts Of Truth series is something that's not easy to say, so I've just avoided writing about it for the last 5 Sundays. But the reason I began that series was to learn something about myself and tackling the difficult issues within it is part of that, so I will be continuing, although I am going to allow myself a little longer to write them-I aiming for one post every other week. No matter how much I enjoy blogging, I don't want to make it a chore for myself, something I feel obliged to do.

At the end of the day, I need this blog, if only as a place to file away all my thoughts and feelings on my own little corner of the internet, but I don't want to let it take over. I don't want to feel guilty for not updating to a schedule or even at all, so I'm going to do things my way. I will post when I want to, not when I feel like I should, when I've got something to say, when I've managed to bend the words to my will to make what I want to say come out right. And as long as someone keeps reading, I'll keep writing, how about that?

Until next time

-Jenni-

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Book 1/65-The Emperor's Children, Claire Messud

I was expecting 'The Emperor's Children' to be a pretty emotional book, bearing in mind that it's set in New York in the Autumn of 2001. I figured we'd be introduced to some characters, get a feel for their lives and then see how they were all changed after the events of the 11th September or something along those sort of lines. It was actually nothing like that at all-for starters you have to read through 500 pages before 9/11 is mentioned at all, and even then it's almost a none-event, a background minutiae in the lives of the book's characters that almost has no impact on them at all.
So what is this book about then? Well...just people. Boring, ordinary, unremarkable people. It's a family and their somewhat spoiled grown up daughter, her grown up friends and their relationships and a cousin who doesn't fit in with their swanky lifestyle. If someone asked me to point out the key events from the story, I would struggle because it's basically 600 pages of nothing at all happening.
The second book I read for this challenge-The Secret History-was also about 600 pages long and, although I didn't really like the characters in it, there was definitely something happening in the story, something I could find and go "There, that's the most important thing that happens in this book". This is not the case with 'The Emperor's Children'. Again, the characters are fairly un-likeable, but they're also quite boring-nothing significant seems to happen to any of them (in my opinion). It's as if someone took a cheap gossip mag and made it into a 600 page book, and I just really couldn't bring myself to care about what was going on. Also I couldn't get on with the writing style at all-Messud has a habit of putting such long winded and rambling sentences in the middle of others with hyphens or brackets that by the time you've read them you've forgotten the start of the sentence and have to go back and read it again.

I dunno, maybe I just didn't 'get' 'The Emperor's Children', maybe it's just not the right sort of book for me-the host of good reviews printed on the cover certainly seem to suggest that not everyone found it as dull and uninteresting as I did, but I am certainly a very long way from agreeing that it's a "masterpiece".
If you like your stories to be about family feuds, about infidelity, about relationships, about enduring friendships and about running away from yourself to become someone new-then you should probably give this book a chance, or at least read it for yourself to see if you agree with me.
If, like me, however, you prefer a book with a bit more substance to it, a book with a definite beginning, middle and end, a book that centres around an event rather than some relationships, then you should probably skip it because you probably won't enjoy it either.

Memorable Quote " It's narcissism, to love a wall and resent it for not loving you back. It's perversity. Love is mutual, it flourishes in reciprocity. You can't have real love without a return of affection-otherwise it's just obsession, and projection. It's childish." -The Fourth of July (3), Pg 373

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Awesome Things VIII

This was actually meant to go up yesterday so it was part of September's blogs but I sort of forgot a bit so I'm posting it today instead. So there.
Yes it's time again to appreciate some more of life's little awesome things just because they make you smile and make your day in the smallest of ways.

-Holding a new, empty notebook and imagining the possibilities
Following my previous post I thought this was particularly relevant. There's just something about purchasing a new notebook, when the pages are all pristine and perfect-not curling because you've written on them in biro-that's awesome. When it's just a blank slate before you fill it with ideas and dreams and thoughts and to-do lists to remind you to wash your pants. It's almost exciting-you don't know exactly what it will hold but one day it'll be full of your life and go on the shelf with the rest-you can enjoy its newness, its possibilities for only a short time.

-Taking a chance on the weather and it turning out well
When you decide to leave the umbrella at home and it doesn't rain or you forget your jumper but it turns out warm enough not to need it anyway. Excellent.

-Getting something nice in the post
I don't think this one's just me-everyone loves getting things through their letterbox that aren't just bills or junk mail, don't they? Whether it's that nice thing you bought yourself that's finally been delivered or a silly postcard/letter from a friend, getting something through your letterbox that's actually meant specifically for you to enjoy it is always always wonderful.

-Flirting
Flirting is excellent. Flirting can be so many different things, but all of them are fun-flirting with someone just because that's the type of friendship you have, knowing it means nothing on both sides, flirting with someone you kinda fancy but know nothing will happen about it for whatever reason, flirting with someone in a way that you hope implies "I really want to take off your clothes and do things to you" and hoping that that's what their flirting also means-it's all good clean (mostly) fun. It makes you feel good on a fairly basic level and I heartily encourage it.

-Singing along to all the words with a friend when one of "your" songs comes on
Ah, is there a better feeling than belting out all the words to a song with a good friend as you drive along? I mean you don't have to be driving along even, just the act of singing the songs you've grown up with, or make jokes about, or just love because it reminds you of good times together is brilliant. It never fails to make you feel good, and we could all use a little of that sometimes.

There we go then, another 5 tiny little awesome things

-Jenni-

Previous instalments:  OneTwoThreeFourFiveSixSevenAutumnal Edition

Friday, 27 September 2013

Nothing Else But Words

Can you tell I favour a particular brand at all?
I was tidying my desk the other day (I know-shocking!) and as I was doing so I kept finding notebook after notebook. Some of them are full, some of them are nearly empty, and most of them are in varying states somewhere in the middle. And the thing is I can't throw them away, even the full ones, because they're full of wonderfully personal things that were pertinent to my life at some point, even if they are no longer.I just can't bring myself to casually throw out my thoughts, my words, that I've crafted into something with love and emotion and care-it feels a bit wrong to just chuck them in the bin.

Those notebooks are more like diaries to me, I suppose-if you flicked through any one of them you'd see a slice of my life at the time-a blog post, a poem, a half drafted letter, a to do list. I've never really been any good at keeping a proper diary-finding time at the end of every day to write about what I did always seemed tedious and boring to me, and more often than not the entries ended up dull and uninteresting. Between the pages of these notebooks, though, are little slivers of my feelings trapped on a page forever. If a total stranger happened upon them and read through some of them, they'd get a real impression of me, as if they'd just opened up my head and peered inside.

I've fallen into the habit of taking a notebook and pen everywhere I go so that I can write stuff down if inspiration strikes me-because too many times I have either had to buy one afresh or lost the idea completely without one. Another lives next to my bed so that I don't have to go too far to write down those weird-and-yet-completely-amazing flashes of inspiration your brain gives you whilst you are trying to fall asleep. I've always been some sort of 'writer'-whether that be stories that get started and never finished, angsty poems during my teens, letters to people that (more often than not) never got sent, and more recently blog posts which for the most part make their way on here in one form or another. I actually find it's a really good way to collect my thoughts-write things as if I was writing them to be read, even if I have no intention of that ever being the case. I just don't feel like I can throw these pieces of myself away-I've still got (somewhere) a notebook full of heartbroken letters that I wrote to my very first boyfriend almost 8 years ago, which I don't think anyone's ever clapped eyes on but myself. Even now, in this very notebook that I am writing this blog post in, there are things that I've never shared with anyone, pieces that will probably never become actual posts because they expose me rather too much, emotionally, and I'd always rather say too little than too much. It's not necessarily that I don't want people to read them, but I'm not offering them up for public scrutiny, let's put it that way.

I think it's basically that, for me at least, these notebooks are little pieces of myself, memories pressed between the pages as if they were pretty autumn leaves-and when I flick through the older ones I can still feel a sense of those feelings that are trapped there in black and white. I'm quite sure that I will end up with a shelf full of old notebooks when I am older, dusty from under-use and yellowing with age. But I will I throw them out even then? Not a chance. These pages hold my words, my thoughts, my mind and sometimes my heart. How could I get rid of that?

-Jenni-

The title is taken from this quote, attributed to John Locke: "So difficult it is to show the various meanings and imperfections of words when we have nothing else but words to do it with."

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend

'Cat' is definitely valid in the scrabble dictionary, right?
A couple of weeks back, we had to take my cat to the vets to have him put down because he'd basically got too old to function properly any more. Don't worry, this isn't going to be a letter telling him how much I'll miss him kind-of-post (I've seen a fair few of these in my time), because 1) He was a cat and therefore was pretty unlikely to read a letter anyway and 2) I can't help but feel like these sort of posts can be a little ridiculous-full of emotion and grief and heartache and, to be honest, I don't really understand.

We got Midnight (aforementioned cat) when I was 6 or 7 so he was a pretty grand age for a moggy, and was showing it. He was half blind, probably deaf and for the past year or so had been becoming more and more decrepit looking as he stopped looking after himself properly-I have no doubts that this was the right thing to do for him.
It's slightly weird to think that he'd been around for 2/3 of my life though-he'd met all of my boyfriends and a lot of my friends,  and left lasting impressions (and by impressions I mean scars!) on many of them, as well as all of my family. He'd put up with horrible children poking and prodding and chasing him for the last few years with a remarkable level of tolerance to say that he'd never really had the nicest temperament and was just as likely to gouge chunks out of your arm as he was to curl up on your knee. He was basically the grumpiest cat in the world, but he was well loved 'til the end. But that's it really. I mean he was just a cat. I don't know if I'm just particularly pragmatic about these things or particularly heartless but I'm really not too sad that he's gone. I mean sure, I keep seeing bundles of dark-coloured-somethings and thinking it's him curled up somewhere until I remember that it's not, and yes, that makes me a bit sad but I'm not heartbroken by it, I'm not all emotional, I'm not grieving. My Dad cried at the vets a few times but my eyes were dry-I felt a little choked up as it happened but otherwise I'm fine about it, really. At the end of the day, he was a pet, not a person-I dunno, it just feels strange to me that people can get so tied up in grieving for an animal. We were asked if we wanted to cremate him, which seemed really ridiculous to me. It's a cat.

It did make me think though-this is the first time I have ever really experienced death on a personal level. I've been lucky enough to get to 23 years old and still have three living grandparents-which I know is something that not everyone is able to claim. My other Grandad died when I was 6 or 7, when I was too young to really care too much. I've never been to a funeral, even, and touch wood I won't have to for a little while longer yet. My grandparents are no longer in the greatest of health, and they, like the cat, are starting to look a little run down, but they're still here-for now. That's what I've really learned from this-that I should thank my lucky stars that the I've never known grief, that the only death I've ever experienced was that of my cat. And I know that this won't last forever, that one day I'll know the sadness of someone I love dying, but I will find a way to deal with that when the time comes. For now I'm just appreciating how lucky I am that all the people I care about are still here, for however much longer that will last.

My cat had a good run and was well loved and looked after, and had a painless end, and really, I can only hope that when the time comes I can say the same for me and the people I love.

-Jenni-

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Walking On The Edge

[Source-Open Clip Art Library]
I am not, by nature, an especially spontaneous person. I wish I was-I love the idea of just packing up and taking a random holiday to somewhere you've just picked off a map with no forethought, but that's not the way I work. I like to know ahead of time what's going on in my life and fill my diary up with plans. There's just some part of me that doesn't like the idea of not being completely aware and in control of an aspect of my life like that-which is weird because I wouldn't describe myself as a control freak, really. It's like I've always liked the idea of someone arranging a surprise party for me but I know realistically it wouldn't be possible because I'm too much of a planner-there's no way that if there was an important event in my life I wouldn't have already arranged something for it. Much as I love the idea, I don't think it could ever work, sadly.
It's not like I won't happily take part in spontaneous activities if I'm invited to them because that can be exciting and fun but I won't ever be the organiser of one because I like to know what I am doing too far in advance/in too much detail. It's not ever been a problem for me though, most of my friends are contented to let me overplan excessively ahead of time (I planned my July birthday celebrations in May this year, although I knew what I wanted to do from about February, for instance), and just generally rib me a little for being a bit daft because at the same time I'm rather un-organised in every other aspect of my life.

I've only had reason to think about it recently though, now that I'm dating someone who is basically the exact opposite of me-someone who almost lives his life on a whim. This is a person who regularly goes to stay in London for days at a time with nothing specific to do at all, someone who is contented purely with the idea of doing 'something' rather than turning that 'something' into anything specific. It amused me that even at my most "spontaneous" (deciding to go up to the Edinburgh Fringe only 4 days before actually going), I still managed to draft an hour by hour plan of what I was going to see, plus grid references so I could easily find them on my map whereas he woke up in the morning and pretty much went to see whatever shows his feet took him to. I'm not criticising this at all-I'm a little in awe of people who live their lives this way because I don't think my brain would function like that ever.
Trying to put the two styles of thinking together though is interesting sometimes because I can't help but feel a little bossy, a little like I'm making every decision and he's just going along with it for an easy life. Or else that I am being annoying by trying to plan everything so that I can have a fix in my head of our plans whereas he would rather just sit back and let things happen as and when they will. I dunno.

I'd love to be more like him though-to pack lightly when I'm only going away for a couple of days, to try not to foresee/counteract every possibility, to be content to go with the flow a little more often, without needing to pre-schedule my life in advance. To live dangerously sometimes, to do things without thinking, to take what happens to me without worrying about the what-ifs and maybes-but it seems so alien to my brain. Maybe it all comes from him being a laid back, chilled out Australian type, and me being a more neurotic, uptight British type. I'm hoping I can learn though, even if it's only just for the little things-because I'm still in love with the idea of spontaneity, of acting on whims and impulses, of going where your feet take you. And, ironically, it's something I'll have to work at because I will have to quell my natural instincts to plan everything out beforehand, resist the urge to ask 'what do you want to do next week?' and put my diary away for a bit. But it can't be a bad thing to try, really, can it, because everyone needs to let go every once in a while, right?
I'm going to try to try new things unhesitatingly, I'm going to try and say yes instead of no every so often, I'm going to try to plan a little less and live in the moment a little more.
I'm going to try walking on the edge for a bit, without wondering if I'll fall.

-Jenni-

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Awesome Things VII

-People who go above and beyond to give fabulous customer service
The other day I went into a branch of Subway and caught the guy behind the counter rocking out to Bon Jovi's 'Living on a Prayer' which was on the radio. He noticed me standing there and looked up sheepishly to find me grinning at him. Whilst he was making my sandwich we had an awesome conversation about music and our favourite bands (Him-Hendrix, me-Queen) and as I left he told me to "Keep rocking on". He seriously made my day just by being that little bit more awesome.

-Having something you've looked forward to for ages happen
Whether it's just that your holiday has finally rocked around, or that gig for that band you really like, or just something as simple as getting to see that person you're missing again, it's always really awesome when something you've been excitedly anticipating for ages actually arrives so you can finally enjoy it. It's probably made all the more awesome for the wait too, isn't it?

-When you get to the bus stop at exactly the right moment
You know, when you get there and look up and see the bus in the distance approaching. Knowing you don't have to wait at all and also realising that you timed it perfectly to not miss it is awesome.

-Your best friends adding your other half on Facebook
This happened to me recently-my best mate added my new boyfriend on FB and it made me feel brilliant. It kinda says to me that she thinks that it's going to last long enough for her to bother getting to know him and also that she approves of him enough to want to see him in her newsfeed. It doesn't sound like much but considering it never happened in my previous relationship, it's an awesome thing, trust me.

-Welsh accents
I LOVE a good Welsh accent, I think they're fabulous. There's something about the sing-song-ness of it that just makes it sound like the happiest accent in the world. Whenever I hear someone with a strong welsh accent it just makes me happy too.

What's been making your day in the smallest of ways this month?

-Jenni-

Previous instalments: 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Book 2/65-What She Saw, Lucinda Rosenfeld

I have to confess that I rather enjoyed 'What She Saw'-most probably because I, like the main character, am a 20-something woman who has been in relationships, and I could easily understand her world and the story through her eyes. The book follows Phoebe Fine through her adventures in life as she tries not to disappoint the people in it, most of all herself. Each chapter deals with a different boy from Phoebe's life-from her first crush to first kiss to first sexual experiences to her first love and first broken heart, and so we see her grow up throughout the book. We see her ever changing cycle of best friends and how she changes from awkward 5th grader to awkward teen to awkward 24 year old. It's very easy to relate to, quite funny and sometimes desperately sad. I reckon a lot of women my sort of age will see something of themselves in Phoebe Fine-whether it's the desperate searching for love in all the wrong places, or the neverquite learning where you fit in society, or just the hopelessness you feel when you don't know in which direction your life will end up taking you. It definitely feels familiar-if you haven't been a Phoebe Fine at some point then you'll definitely have known (at least) one.

I like the way it ends too-it finishes abruptly and with no real definitive ending. After all, she's only just 24, does anyone really have their life sorted by then? (Actually, don't answer that.) It leaves you free to imagine what might happen-maybe she'll learn to love herself better and find her dream man, maybe she'll keep de-evolving and disintegrating forever-who knows? I like the not knowing, I like that we don't get a "happy ever after" ending, because life never just ties off that neatly in reality. And as a woman in my early 20s with no real sense of purpose in my life, I find that oddly reassuring. I'll definitely be making space on my bookshelf for this one.

Memorable Quote: 'She wanted him to be the sunshine to her clouds, she couldn't handle the idea that he had weather patterns of his own, and that he contained within himself the makings of a downpour and possibly even a monsoon.' -In Spitty Clark, pg 124

-Jenni-

Sunday, 25 August 2013

A Flying Visit To The Fringe-Part IV

Show 8-Blind Mirth Improv Comedy
[Source-Ed Fringe Site]
As I mentioned in Part II, I am fascinated with Improv Comedy because it's something I could never do and I think people who can do it well are veritable geniuses. I have to be honest, I selected Blind Mirth for two reasons-because they had good reviews and also because my friends could get in for free with their venue passes so I knew someone would come with me. I mean improv can always be a bit hit and miss-it's usually either really good or terrible so I didn't want to go on my own and then it be terrible. I really shouldn't have worried-these guys were excellent. All students at the University of St Andrews, they're young and full of energy and really funny. They interact well with their audiences and have a range of improv games which are all designed with laughter in mind. The first half of the show was short-form games, with quick fire suggestions from the audience that were incorporated into the ridiculousness. Particular highlights for me was the 'Late for work' game where a performer was sent outside and upon his return had to guess what job he was late for and why he was late. Me and my boyfriend had the excellent pair of suggestions that he was late for his job as a chainsaw juggler because he had been kidnapped by pirates (because we're an awesome team) and the resulting mimes were pretty daft. Another game required them to ask for books/scripts/large chunks of texts from the audience and my boyfriend provided the 'Titus Edinburgh Survival Guide' which was then used to great comic effect.
The second half of the show was long-form sketches, which got more and more ridiculous as they went on-but without losing their humour. The performers cleverly referenced previous sketches and one-off comments too, which was awesome because it made you feel like you had in-jokes with them that you would have to be there to understand. I laughed so much-they are a troupe of really funny fellows and you can tell they were having as much fun as their audience were. It's a shame they're in such a small venue really, because I think they could definitely sell to larger ones and still have just as much fun-although the intimacy really helped with the humour at times. Fab fab fab, destined for great things, I reckon.

Show 9-Abominations
[Source-Ed Fringe Site]
As this was my last show of the 2013 Fringe (sigh), I was hoping for good things-and I wasn't disappointed. A cast of 4 (plus a guy on a keyboard) playing hundreds of different characters and all with no set, costumes or scenery sounds like an interesting premise for a show, but it was pulled off ingeniously. This show had everything any self respecting science geek could ask for-evil scientists, machines capable of creating superheros (or just giant chickens), madness, robots, kittens and cobrangowolves. You had to be there. It was fast paced and high energy and despite the fact that they weren't interacting with anything at all, you could easily follow who was playing whom and where there were things and what they were doing. Who needs scenery when you have actors?! It was a smattering of (decidedly dodgy) science, some excellent one liners ("He just lost a game of Rock-Paper-Robot!" "That's a whisk?.." / "IT'S NOT A WHISK!") and some brilliant physical comedy combining to make a thoroughly enjoyable show. I wouldn't say it had a happy ending, but I sure did laugh a lot. If you like your comedy-shows to be packed with dubious science and excellent acting, move at a face pace and have the day saved by invisible kittens (yes, you read that correctly) then this is exactly the show you should have seen. However if you're reading this now then I'm afraid you're too late, better luck next year. Alternatively hop into your time machine and pedal like mad, with any luck you'll make it in time for yesterday's show!
An excellent way to round off my Fringe adventures for this year, I reckons.

So that was it, my bonkers 40 hours of awesomeness and theatre and madness. I walked a lot (often at high speeds between venues), was veryvery tired, spent a lot of money on 9 shows in 2 days,  but most importantly laughed a hell of a lot. When I left (at 5:48 AM Wednesday morning no less), so much of me wanted to stay behind and see more-see it all, but the sensible parts of my brain (and the bits that knew how much I had left in my bank account) knew that this was nothing but a futile dream, and reality always comes along to spoil them in the end. I can't tell you how strange it feels to be on my own again after a month or so of constantly being around people, and time really seems to drag by. Luckily though, even as you read this, I'm visiting a friend in Devon, so the fun hasn't stopped yet.

I'll catch up with you again soon, but until then, tarrah!

-Jenni-

Blind Mirth are on at Paradise in the Vault (Venue #29) at 20:45 until the 26th. Tickets are £6. More details here.
Sadly the Abominations have finished their run, boo!
Why not drown your sorrows by going to see Titus, the show some of  my friends are performing in-a dark comedy adaptation of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. Paradise in the Kirkhouse (Venue #155) at 5pm until the 26th. Tickets are £8/£7 conc. More details here.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

A Flying Visit To The Fringe-Part III

Show 5-Bec Hill-Bec By Popular Demand
[Source-Ed Fringe site]
Before I start let me direct you to this video. No really, just take a couple of minutes to go watch it, I won't mind.
OK, are you back? Good.
That video, which I found randomly on some corner of the Internet last year is the reason I wanted to see Bec Hill-because I think it's fabulous. I couldn't get last year for whatever reason (probably financial) so I made sure to put her straight on my list this time around. A combination of her signature 'paper puppetry' and drawings and some stand up too, her show was very funny and I'm really glad I got to go. As an ex-Scout, I also really enjoyed the bit where she taught the audience a camp fire song complete with silly actions-I don't even care if everyone else was utterly confused, I loved it. I think it's a shame that the audience was so small because Bec Hill is a real treat to watch and people are definitely missing out on something really awesome.

Show 6-The Comedian's Comedian with Sarah Millican
[Source-Ed Fringe site]
This was a last minute decision of mine-I bought the ticket on the way in to Bec Hill as they were (happy co-incidence) in the same venue. I had originally planned to see a free show elsewhere but decided that this would be rather interesting, plus I love the Millican so was easily swayed. The Comedians' Comedian, presented by Stuart Goldsmith doesn't promise to be funny-it's a "documentary" show rather than stand-up but I was still pretty amused because Sarah Millican is one funny lady. It was really interesting too because it gave us the opportunity to hear a little about the behind the scenes stuff of being a fairly famous comedian and her ideas on how to do the Fringe properly, how she writes, why she started-all that stuff. It was quite personal and it felt like we were seeing beyond the famous face to the real person underneath-although they are remarkably similar really. She was very candid and also very amusing, swearing like a trooper which I'm sure will be a nightmare to edit around. Although this wasn't a laugh a minute comedy show like the others I've seen, I still really enjoyed it because it gave me an opportunity to get to know one of my favourite comedians a little better, and have a miniature fangirl moment over the fact that in answering my question we had a mini conversation-yay! It was really interesting and I will definitely be checking out some of the other pod casts when they get uploaded to the site to hear what some other famous faces have to say.

Show 7-Ant Dewson: Now That's What I Call Musical Comedy
[Source-Ed Fringe Site]
We weren't expecting great things when we finally found the room that Ant Dewson was to perform in (we'd practically searched every inch of the pub and nearly gave up before we did!) as it was about the size of a stationary cupboard or walk in wardrobe, and had seats laid out for 20 when there should only have really been 16. I mean it wasn't what you would call grand or anything, and as part of the free fringe anything could have happened. It didn't really look promising-a man with a keyboard and a fan, and a slightly trepidatious smile who informed us that he was just going to nip downstairs and see if he could drum up some more interest. Me and my boyfriend exchanged looks-this could have been a very tedious hour...
Luckily though, it really wasn't! Dewson started by handing out chocolate to all his audience, which is a definite plus in my book and then launched into a self-depreciating song about how small his room was and the show he was performing. His songs were very funny, very rude and although the tunes were fairly indistinct from each other, the lyrics had me howling with laughter (which was awkward in that tiny room at times!). They were on a broad range of subjects from love to Carol Vorderman, being under 30 (and knowing bugger all), to a particularly disturbing song about necrophilia and everything in between. There was even a dance break in the middle where, sweat band on forehead, he made us get up and do an aerobics style work out to stretch our legs-it was all very silly but I don't think anyone minded really. For what presented as a dubious gig in a near-impossible-to-find cupboard, I'm glad we took a gamble on Ant Dewson and his funny songs as it was actually a really amusing hour.

Part III over and out, look out for Part IV soon.

-Jenni-

Bec Hill  is on at the Gilded Balloon (Venue #14) at 16:00 until the 25th. Tickets are £8/£7 conc. More details here.
The Comedian's Comedian is on at the Gilded Balloon (Venue #14) at 17:15 until the 26th, interviewing a different comedian each day. Tickets are £9/£8 conc. More details are here and the list of comics is here.
Ant Dewson is on at the Free Sisters (Venue #272) at 19:15 until the 25th. For reference he's in the room called 'The Staff Room' at the back of the pub and up the stairs. Bring thin friends if there's more than 2 of you. Free entry (and chocolate if you're lucky!) More info here.
Don't forget Titus, the show some of  my friends are performing in-a dark comedy adaptation of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. Paradise in the Kirkhouse (Venue #155) at 5pm until the 26th. Tickets are £8/£7 conc. More details here.

Friday, 23 August 2013

A Flying Visit To The Fringe-Part II

Show 3-The Showstoppers' Improvised Musical
[Source-Ed Fringe Site]
Well this was a fabulously fun way to round off the evening of my first day at the Fringe. I have to admit that I am truly fascinated by improv comedy because it's just not something I think I could ever do-my brain doesn't work in the right way! So the idea of not only improv-ing dialogue but both music and songs on top of that was too good to pass up for me. I wasn't really sure exactly what to expect but what I got was fabulous.
Dressed entirely in red and black (to match the set), there was a troupe of 6 performers-4 men and 2 women-plus an evil overlord narrator type who was playing the role of "script writer". When the show began, it was only the script writer on the stage, "on the phone" to his producer who was demanding another new musical from him. He cast out to the audience for suggestions of places where the musical could be set as well as ideas for musical styles/song writers for the cast to emulate. And thus "In The Jungle, The Flighty Jungle" was born-a musical set in a random jungle where a Concord flight had just crash landed, with song styles taken from 'Into the Woods', 'Abba', 'Tim Minchin' (suggestion courtesy of my other half, who was very pleased with himself), 'Cabaret' and a random musical no-one had heard of that was described as 'Latin, Hip-Hop, Pop, RnB and Rap'-y'know, because improving a musical from scratch isn't hard enough already.
And somehow, it worked. The cast were full of energy and were coming up with some very amusing stuff, as well as some fabulous songs-songs in full harmony, with dance routines, all from the top of their heads. It was pretty incredible to watch and I have no idea how something like this is actually possible, but clearly it is!
The story did get a little convoluted along the way, and was nudged in certain directions by the 'script writer' from time to time whenever he felt like he wanted to explore a certain theme more. It was really good fun-funny and fast paced and pretty damn amazing-they even managed to create songs in each of the musical styles set by the audience which was hilarious! (Especially the latin-hip-hop-pop-rnb-rap song!). Highlights for me personally were the terrible Australian accents (as girlfriend of an Aussie this is pretty damn amusing to me) and the fact that I came out singing the finale song at the end-a song that had previously not existed. I can still remember a couple of them now-which I think is a sign that the Showstoppers are doing their jobs properly. It was an hour and a half of madness and chaos and wonder and fabulous songs and great laughs. I for one am very glad I went!

Day 2


[Source- Ed Fringe Site]
Show 4-Pussyfooting
This was a show that I had only heard of because a friend of mine directed and is starring in it-and it isn't something I would have probably chosen to see otherwise. However I'm really glad I did because although I cannot claim to fully understand it, I really enjoyed myself. Don't let the frankly disturbing promotional picture put you off-it was very well written, acted and put together. It's the story of a girl whose feet have lives of their own-and they're taking over her life to weird and almost disastrous ends. I laughed a lot-the show is very clearly aimed at people my sort of age and has lots of pop culture references as well as jokes about student debt and how graduate jobs just aren't all they're cracked up to be. Alongside the humour though were darker moments which didn't feel out of place but oddly fitting-I mean yes the idea that your feet can control you is pretty silly but that doesn't mean that there isn't a dark side to it too.
The energy of the 5-strong cast was fab and I'm quite sure they must be exhausted by now (they've been performing all month) but you couldn't tell at all. The physical acting was spot on too-you really believed that their feet were stuck to the floor or that they weren't in control of their own movements as they jerked about erratically, feet fully in charge. I loved the simplicity of the set and costumes too-simple black clothes with a 'chalk outline' detailing, and all the props and set were drawn onto chalkboards by the cast at the start of the show which was really actually quite fun to watch-especially as they didn't stop moving throughout.
The whole show was very well put together and was really enjoyable. I mean sure, it was a little bit weird and I'm not sure I totally understand the ending but that didn't detract from it at all and I came out with my ribs firmly tickled from laughing. Plus any show that offers ticket holders a free pair of socks on the way in is most certainly all right by me!

4 down, 5 more to go, so come back soon!

-Jenni-


The Showstoppers are on at the Gilded Balloon (Venue #14) at 22:30 until the 25th. Tickets are £13.50/£12.50 conc. More details here.
Pussyfooting is on at 13:20 at C Aquila (Venue #21) until the 26th. Tickets are £8.50/£6.50 conc. More details here.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

A Flying Visit To The Fringe-Part I

So somehow, almost accidentally, I ended up visiting the Edinburgh Fringe festival this week for 40 hours of madness, theatre and sleep deprivation. It was actually pretty awesome because I got to experience a tiny slice of the madness and frivolity and fun that the Fringe generates but from the other side of the curtain this time. If I could have afforded to stay longer I would have done in a heartbeat because it was magic and manic and all kinds of awesome-Edinburgh in Fringe time has this wonderful atmosphere and it's very easy to get captivated and swept along in that (Although it's a pain and a half if you're trying to get somewhere quickly-like from one venue to another-because no-one is in a hurry at the Fringe, and you always end up stuck on a narrow street behind a group of dawdlers.).

I thought I'd let you know what I got up to whilst I was up there over the next couple of posts-and if you're around the Fringe you should definitely check out some of these fabulous shows if you can too!

Show 1-Piracy! Comedy on the High C's

[Source-Ed Fringe Site]
Piracy! was thoroughly silly and I really enjoyed myself as I was watching the nautical (and naughty!) adventures. From the moment the house opened to the audience, the chorus members were on stage singing sea shanties and piratical ballads, which really helped set the scene of being on a creaky old ship out at sea, far from home.
The story was a familiar one-the British Navy vs the tyrannical piratical buccaneers but told with a song in its heart and the odd twist or three you wouldn't normally expect. Plus there was an abundance of lady pirates showing that what they lack in facial hair they make up for in sword fighting ability and ruthless cut-throatedness.
There were plenty of swashes being buckled and main braces being spliced (whatever that means) and a good deal of, ahem, inter-faction diplomatic "relations" taking place and the whole thing was very funny. I think this is one of those shows that would get described by reviewers as "a romp"-and I can understand why-it was light hearted, very fun and thoroughly enjoyable. The songs were funny and well performed and the cast were clearly loving being there as much as the audience, which always goes to make an excellent time for all.
I wanted to come up with a witty Piratical pun to end this but all my attempts have been pretty feeble, so I shall spare you the agony. You'll have to invent your own, I'm afraid!

Show 2-The Mechanisms-Ulysses Dies At Dawn
[Source-Ed Fringe Site]
This was, co-incidentally, another show featuring a band of pirates, only these were of the Immortal Space
variety-and there was certainly no swashbuckling to be seen here. The Mechanisms had been recommended to me many times by friends of mine (who happen to know the guys in the band) and I'd never gotten around to seeing them before now-but boy am I a convert! They're a 7(ish) piece band of awesome steampunk wonderfulness, who describe their act as 'storytelling musical cabaret' which probably says it better than I could. The members are all in character as crew of the spaceship Aurora who as immortal space pirates have 'seen many strange things'. This show is just one of their epic tales-a magical weaving of dark narration and lyrically wonderful songs to which I wouldn't dare to try and assign a genre to. It's the tale of Ulysses, a broken war hero who can't escape the torture of their memories and the tale of their final hour (we don't discover the gender of our hero-only that they were 'black, beautiful and had a pair of cold blue eyes that couldn't hide the things they'd seen'.).
The songs are all brilliant-mostly fairly gritty and dark but they're all as different as the voices that sing them-some of which blew me away because they're amazing. This whilst playing several instruments, and each playing a role in the story they're telling-they're a pretty talented bunch.
It was the story, though, that really captured me-tangled me up in the excellent narration and descriptions that took my imagination to a world I'd never seen before. Although my eyes knew I was sat in a low lit basement bar watching a gig, my mind was in another place entirely-I could just perfectly imagine what was being described as if I was there, as if it were me. It was just magical. The story is dark and the songs tied in perfectly to introduce us to all the characters and the reasons they had ended up there and why they were doing the things they were doing. I couldn't help but get caught up in the whole thing as it reached its dramatic conclusion-which even though it's predicted in the title of the show, I wasn't entirely anticipating, and the ending was beautiful.
Ulysses Dies At Dawn is a tale of folklore from a time and place a long way from our own, sprinkled with a smattering of Greek mythology (but not enough to confuse) set to the backing of a grimy, bluesy, jazzy, folky score which repeatedly sent shivers down my spine. In short? It was MAGNIFICENT and I look forward to seeing The Mechanisms again and again.

That's all for today, but I have another 7 shows to write up so be sure to come back soon!

-Jenni-

Piracy! is on at 15:15 at The Space @Venue 45 until the 24th. Tickets are £9.50/£7.50 conc. More details here.
The Mechanisms are performing at Whynot (Venue 327) at 17:30 until the 24th. Free entry. More details here.
The guys I went up with are also performing in Titus, a dark comedy version of Titus Andronicus and you should check them out too. They're on at 17:00 at Paradise in the Kirkhouse (Venue 155) until the 26th. Tickets are £8/£7 conc. More details here.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Book 4/65-The Secret History, Donna Tartt



Again, I can only apologise for my absence from blogging over the last week. I was hanging out with my boyfriend and having too much of a nice time to spend much time on the internet, so lapsed a little on the blog front.

The Secret History is a story about those sort of friendships you make whilst at college or university-the ones that form out of the unique pressures that you find yourself in in that situation. We are told the tale through the eyes of Richard Papen-who grew up in an ugly suburban town in California, longing for somewhere more beautiful and who settled on Hampden College, Vermont simply because he liked the pictures in the promotional brochure. He studies Greek under the very elitist and somewhat eccentric Julian Morrow-so elitist in fact that Richard becomes one of only 6 students under him. He soon falls in with his fellows and the story follows their friendship over a year or so of "study" (surprisingly little is mentioned of it) and the dramatic events that brings them all closer together than ever and then ultimately shatters them apart again.

Did I enjoy it? Hard to say really. I did recognise the feelings of being an outsider desperate to get in with a group and the elation when they finally start to accept you as one of them, but don't we all? I also liked the familiar way that the friendships were described-everything is more intense than usual at uni because life is placing its pressures on you at the time and I think anyone who has been a student will understand something of that. I can't say I fell for any of the characters though-they were all written in a way that made them rather dislikeable-all fiendishly clever  (to the point where you know they would look down your nose at you) but with character faults that I certainly wouldn't want in my friends-neurotic, manipulative, possessive, a money leech, incredibly selfish etc. They didn't get under my skin in the same way that some characters in some books do, and I found myself utterly unmoved by the terrible events that befell them-I was certainly a long way from heartbroken.

Tartt also does something I really hate in books-where the course of a year or so takes up most of the 600+ pages and then all the messy ends are neatly tied up in the last 20 pages in a 'some years later' sort of way. (Think Harry Potter 7's awful final chapter if you don't get what I mean). I'd almost rather be left wondering what happened to the characters than have their stories clipped so neatly and abruptly at the end.

For that, I think 'The Secret History' is well written and does capture the spirit of being away at university very well-the hedonism, the friendships, the loneliness, the way you don't really feel part of the real world etc. On the other hand though, the casual way that the darker parts of the story are revealed by the characters-delusions, alcoholism, incest and even murder-as if they are nothing more important than a change in the season jars heavily with me and makes it feel a little unreal. It's just not a story that feels like it could happen in real life, but it's trying very hard to convince you otherwise, that this is just a normal bunch of teenagers doing normal student things, and for me it seemed to take a step too far in the other direction in doing so.
Will it end up on my bookshelf to be read again? Almost certainly not. I didn't find myself able to care for the characters and the story left me pretty cold, and as it's some 600+ pages long it takes far too long to actually tell for my liking.

For me, at least,  'The Secret History' should remain just a secret.

-Jenni-

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Err, You Like A BOY!

-This is a pre-scheduled post as I am currently away from the Internet visiting a friend-

I actually wrote this post a couple of months ago and it's not strictly relevant to my life right now, but I rather liked it and also think it provides a bit of back story to the stuff that is going on in it currently. I didn't post it at the time because I didn't want the world and his wife to know what was in my head but now it doesn't really matter because everyone important knows now. Anyway, onwards:

I'd forgotten what it was like to fancy someone. You know, school girl giggly, resisting the urge to doodle their name everywhere kind of fancy someone. I'd forgotten how fun it could be-I never had this with my last ex-it took me so long to realise that I actually liked him that I missed out on all these enjoyable bits and I'd forgotten them all. To fall asleep thinking about them because you can't get them off your mind, to dream about them and then to wake up and have them spring into your thoughts before anything else. When you like someone for no other reason than because they are them it sends you just a little bit mad, in a good way of course, but I had forgotten quite how much this was the case. I'd forgotten how you start to expect every Facebook message, every text to be from them, even if they have no reason to be contacting you at all, and though you try not to you feel a smidgeon of disappointment when it's not them-every time. I'd forgotten how you over analyse everything they say and do to try and work out if they like you too or if you're just seeing things that aren't there because you want them to be so badly. You find yourself talking about them all the time even though the conversation isn't relevant and you can turn any situation into a thought about them through some weird steps of logic that only you could possibly understand. You get so tangled in your own head that you can't tell what's just having a flirty friendship and what's actual flirting-can't tell what's actually there and what's in your head, can't tell if they're feeling this madness too or if it's all going to end in tears-for you at least.

And then if you are brave enough to ever tell them, if you're lucky enough then they just might feel the same and then there's a whole other lunacy to contend with. There's the delicious sense of expectation between the point where you admit that you like one another and your first kiss-you're existing in a sort of limbo state between not being anyone's 'person' and belonging to them-somewhere between 'single' and 'taken'. Your imagination (if it's anything like mine) will run riot imagining all the things that you might do together. You don't know what their kisses feel like, what they look like naked, where you'll go or what you'll do or even who you'll be together, so you imagine them all a hundred different ways. All these stories, all these unknowns play out in your head every night stopping you from going to sleep and it's hard even to mind because they're wonderful-you're in them, they're in them and a host of new things that are as yet unknown to you. You start to memorise all the things about them that make you like them-the way that they smile, the colour of their eyes when the sunlight hits them, the things they say that make you laugh. You start collecting all those random, useless pieces of information that you acquire about someone you know really well-their middle name and their shoe size, their favourite colour, the name of that band they really like-all stuff that is entirely pointless but you can't help but remember it anyway, because it all adds to the picture of them you keep in your mind. You remember the way they look at you-really look at you-like they never want to stop looking at you, like they're committing your face to their memory (and they probably are) and you know that you have the exact same intense expression on your face too.
You can't help but feel like a teenager waiting for your first kiss all over again-you just want to claim them as your own by smushing your faces together, just to end the terrible, wonderful anticipation of it all. You're nervous and excited and every time you think about them you can't help but smile, a huge great grin across your face that tells everyone around exactly who's on your mind. You constantly allow yourself to get lost in the could-bes, might-happens and unknowns because they make you happy, you keep imagining how it's going to feel the first time they kiss you, what might happen the first time you go to bed together, what it will feel like for you to be theirs, for them to be yours. 

You know when you fancy someone-really fancy someone, when you can't get them off your mind and wouldn't want to for a second? I reckon that's the greatest kind of madness.


-Jenni-

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Awesome Things The 6th

-This is a pre-scheduled post as I am currently away visiting a friend-hurrah!-

I reckon it's that sort of time again where I take a moment to appreciate some more of those little things in life, the ones that really make your day, or just make you smile for a moment.

-When your music player groups a run of totally awesome songs together.
We all have those songs that we can't help but dance and sing along to, the ones that make us feel fabulous and alive and wonderful. It's like a little burst of happiness straight into your ears. When your music player is really feeling your mood and plays one after another after another it's just joyful and makes your day a little bit more awesome.

-Hugs exactly when you need them.
We've all had those days where nothing seems to go right or where you can't help but feel a little bit miserable at the world and you just need something to cheer you up. When someone comes along and offers you a hug, either because they like hugs or because they can see that you might need one-it's like a tiny ray of sunshine going straight to your heart. Yes, it might not make the problems go away but for those moments when someone else allows you to cling tightly to them, it's a little bit of comfort and solace and love that you can keep hold of for the rest of the day.

-New Clothes.
Whether or not you are someone who likes to shop or not, I bet you still love the feeling of putting on new clothes for the first time. Sliding that shirt out of its packet or taking the dress off the hanger and putting it on, when it's still a bit crisp and new and strange feeling. Whether it's something you want people to notice or if it's something you're just wearing for yourself, the first time is always the best time.

-Glow in the dark nail varnish.
Sounds totally childish and ridiculous. Is actually wonderful and tremendous amounts of fun. I wore some the other day and could NOT STOP STARING AT MY HANDS. I mean LOOK:


you cannot possibly deny that that is reallyfrickencool. And if you do well I just won't listen, so there.

-Being approved of by your significant other's friends.
This is an excellent feeling because meeting their good friends is as important as meeting their family. And while in my case I haven't actually met many of them (due to my significant other being from an entirely different continent to me/the one he's currently on), I have been in a Skype conversation with a couple and I know for a fact that a lot of them have been visiting my Facebook page to assess my suitability. So far, I seem to be doing OK and that's a huge relief to me.

That's all for today, see you next time!

-Jenni-

Previous instalments:


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Book 56/65-How To Be A Woman, Caitlin Moran

A couple of months back I mentioned that I was starting a book list challenge that I had found on the internet entitled '65 Books to Read in Your 20s'. When I saw that this one was on the list I was very happy because I had already decided that I was going to read it again, and I love serendipity. Also because it mean that I could begin my challenge straight away-I didn't have to hunt through dusty second hand shelves (one of my favourite things in the world to do, in fairness) to find a specific book but merely walk to my bookcase and pick one up. I can cross an item off the list without any effort at all-and everyone knows they're the best things to cross off lists (like adding things to your to-do list that you've already done so you look more productive!).


I read HTBAW for the first time after some very insistent recommendations from some good friends of mine, and on more than one occasion having bewilderingly out of context yet still hilarious pieces quoted at me by text message. In her own words, Moran says that HTBAW is "a book about feminism! A funny but polemic book about feminism. Like 'The Female Eunuch'-but with jokes about my knickers!"
She doesn't disappoint, either-it's very funny. Re-reading for the second time whilst at work in a semi-professional environment, I often found myself clamping my hand over my mouth to try and stifle the gigglefit that was making my shoulders shake and my sides hurt.
It's delightfully anecdotal-cringeworthy-ly, head nodding in agreement-ly anecdotal. We've all been there, one way or another-every woman will be able to empathise with at least one of CatMo's tales, or top it with one of her own. It's also interspersed with some excellent life advice that doesn't feel preachy or teachy but more like an incredibly wise friend is telling them to you while you sip cider in a sunny beer garden somewhere. You start to question why you hadn't already formed opinions on these subjects yourself, and suddenly realise that they actually matter to you more than you'd ever realised.

HTBAW covers all of the important things in life (and some more trivial)-underwear (and how it is shrinking), porn, brazilians (the pubic topiary, not the people), fat, sexism, fashion, children (and why you should and shouldn't have them), abortions, bras and what to call your genitalia, amongst others! It was the first thing I'd read that made me actually realise that those things I'd been thinking all along meant I was a feminist, that that was a word I could-and should-use to describe myself, that this was an excellent thing. I know that to some people saying that you like CatMo is a serious feminist faux pas (Feminists, why you so judgy?) and I will agree that she does have a terrible habit of saying some truly awful things and then making it worse by being a dick about it afterwards. But no-one's perfect, and I can think that just because you agree with and admire one thing that someone's produced, it doesn't mean you have to agree with everything. There's no such thing as the "perfect feminist" because it means something different to every person, and everyone does it differently. I think that what should matter is that you are one, rather than what type of one you are.

I reckon every 20-something woman (and probably man too) should read this book because HTBAW is the friendly, paddle-in-the-shallow-end kind of introduction to the idea of feminism that you need. After that, you can choose your own way-read some fabulous blogs, talk to some wonderful people, watch some awesome videos, form your own opinions and disagree with people. On my second read through of this book I found myself wholeheartedly disagreeing with CatMo on some points-and that's how it's supposed to be, there's nothing wrong with that. HTBAW isn't an instruction manual on how to lead your life, how to be a feminist, or even how to be a woman, but more of a key to a door and a gentle push over the threshold to the world of feminism, and then you get to make your own way from there.
I, personally, think it's fabulous.

Memorable Quote: "Why are we starving our bottoms of the resources-like an extra metre of material-to stay comfortable? Why have we succumbed to pantorexia?" (page 97)

-Jenni-